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School to work pilot is a win-win for students and marine and composites industry

School to work pilot is a win-win for students and marine and composites industry

Last updated 22 November 2016
Last updated 22 November 2016

Our pilot school-to-work programme for senior secondary students with the marine and composites industry is gaining momentum.

NZMAC ITO (New Zealand Marine and Composites Industry Training Organisation) coordinates the 3+2 programme, selecting Year 12 and 13 students to take part. 

Typically, each week students spend three days at school studying for their NCEA and two days in paid employment with an employer who provides them with training.  The students are assessed against industry unit standards which are credited towards NCEA and industry qualifications.

The 3+2 programme is supported by the Ministry of Education and funded through our Joint Ventures and Amalgamation Projects fund. It involves a collaborative approach between schools, employers and the ITO to provide a flexible and supported pathway leading to sustinable employment for learners. The pilot will contribute directly to establishing best practice in managing the transition of learners from school to the workplace. We will share best practice guidelines with the vocational education sector.

NZMAC ITO sets national skills standards for the marine and composites industry and manages the training of over 500 trainees in the workplace, including 331 apprentices. 

Matching interests to opportunities

NZMAC ITO identified over 10 schools in the Auckland region and an equal number of industry employers to take part in the 18-month pilot. Tracey Eaton was appointed as the NZMAC ITO Schools Transition Advisor to present the programme to schools and facilitate the placement of students in the workplace with matched employers.

Tracey said it was initially challenging introducing the concept to schools due to lack of awareness of the industry, gaining access to the right people, and the need for schools to adapt their processes and policies to allow students to participate.

The other challenge was matching the career interests of students with the needs of employers.

“Most students don’t know what our industry does. Asked what marine means to them, they think it’s something to do with the navy or just boatbuilding. They have no idea of all the other opportunities like electronics, engineering, interior fit-out, advance composites and marine management.”

“NZMAC ITO’s new website has also been invaluable in raising awareness of the many and varied career opportunities in the industry,” she said.

Auckland Grammar student Jake Craggs

Auckland Grammar student Jake Craggs is learning composite engineering at C-Tech as part of the school to work programme

Increasing motivation and retention

So far, 19 students have taken part in the programme in Auckland and Hamilton. The expectation is that other students will enter the programme before the end of the pilot and that more than half of participating students will gain full-time employment in the industry.

 “The students have found the placements invaluable in making their career choices,” Tracey said.

“All have indicated they would be interested in taking up an apprenticeship at the end of the programme.  Participating schools have reported the students are more motivated and engaged at school, as a result.”

“Awareness of the programme has grown throughout the year and now schools are recommending the industry to students and they are providing suitable students keen to be involved in the programme next year.”

Current students on the programme have communicated their positive experiences with other students at their schools and this has resulted in further referrals for programme engagement.

Demand from industry employers, many of whom have found it difficult to find new employees, has also been growing nationally as they learn about the programme’s success.

Setting clear expectations

NZMAC ITO selects students carefully to ensure they are enthusiastic to learn new industry skills, are a good fit for the workplace and for the intended training. It also guides the students through the application process, introduction to the work place, work readiness, and supports the student throughout the programme.

NZMAC ITO and the employer create an individual learning programme for the student’s work. The credits gained are credited towards a nationally recognised industry qualification and NCEA.

NZMAC ITO General Manager Chris van der Hor says, “ Approximately one-third of the people working in the New Zealand marine industry as managers or business owners have graduated from an apprenticeship scheme."

“Even though we’re only a small ITO, we are leaders in the provision of a meaningful and cost-effective option for school students, with wider benefits to all New Zealanders and the New Zealand economy.”

“This programme has huge potential to change the lives of many students and finally provide industry employers a supply of suitable people to train.”


Caption for home page photo: 

Howick College students Nick Mackenzie and Jayden Prentice, two of the first students participating in the new School to Work programme, are learning boat building at top New Zealand boat manufacturer, Rayglass Boats.